We then showed the natives our water-casks, and, pointing to a stream close by, made them understand we desired to fill them, to which they offered no objection, so that we at once began to water the ship. When we had finished our task we were invited by signs to go to the king, and, being well armed against treachery, we boldly marched up in a body to the king’s house, which we found to be an immense building, nearly 300 feet long and 30 feet wide. It had a high peaked portico, supported by posts 80 feet high, from which a thatched roof narrowed and tapered away to the end, where it reached the level of the ground. The house resembled nothing so much as an enormous telescope, and here the king lived with his numerous wives and families, together with all his relatives and immediate retainers.
From the knowledge I had picked up on my travels, particularly during the time I was captive among the black cannibals of New Holland, I had acquired the art of understanding, either by words or signs, what savage people wished, by their language, to convey, which to most would have been unintelligible, and from what I could gather it appeared that the young king, who had but lately inherited his kingdom from his father, whose tomb, perched on the top of a tree, was pointed out to us, was threatened with war by a neighbouring chief, the former king’s hereditary enemy, and that if we would help him vanquish his opponent he was willing to hand over to us the property of other white men which had been left upon the island in years gone by.
When I had imparted this proposition, so far as I was able to understand it, to Hartog, he expressed a wish to see the white men’s treasure, and on my repeating this request to the king’s councillors, we were invited to accompany them to a part of the island where we were shown what were undoubtedly the remains of Cortes’ vessel, the one that was burnt and abandoned to the savages. There did not at first sight appear to be anything of value among the ancient relics, but I noticed some iron boxes, which had rusted at the locks, so that it became difficult to open them. With the aid of a crowbar, however, which I sent for from the ship, we were able to prise the lid off one of them, when it was found to be filled with Spanish money, much gold coin being amongst it. There were twelve iron boxes, and we reckoned that each box contained money to the value of two thousand English pounds. At the sight of this treasure Hartog readily consented to assist the king of the islands against his enemies by every means in his power, and an agreement was come to accordingly. Hartog then ordered the specie to be taken on board, when we attended a council of the chiefs to ascertain the part it was proposed for us to play in the war, I acting as interpreter.
It then appeared that a number of canoes were expected shortly to arrive from the adjacent islands. They would be met by the young king’s fleet, when a naval battle would take place; but the issue was doubtful, since the hostile chief possessed many more canoes than the young king did. It was to neutralize this disadvantage that our services were required.